The lovely Ellie Goulding has finally made Starry Eyed (one of my favourite songs of 2009) an official release, accompanied by a trippy blurry lovely video. The new version of the track has fuller drums, a few more production tricks and is a bit less wispy and ethereal. I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or not.
By dint of being crowned BBC’s Sound of 2010, Ellie will be receiving about as much Internet hatred incommensurate with her actual level of global popularity as Florence and La Roux did this past year, but as long as she keeps releasing wonderful bits of electro cotton candy, I don’t mind her one bit. In fact, the demo mix of Starry Eyed alone probably got as much play as any of the Sound of ’09ers.
Epic Russ Chimes Disco Edit: Starry Eyed (Russ Chimes Remix) – Ellie Goulding
Over at The Singles Jukebox, we’re mired in our 2009 Best-Off, which is amusing and yet taking longer than any of us anticipated. Thankfully, this gives me the opportunity to finally update with the rest of my year’s blurbs.
As usual, I’m at my most embarrassing and sophomoric when it comes to music I unabashedly love (see: Campesinos, Marina) than I am with that which I like with reservations or that unexpectedly grew on me. Work in progress, as always. The Annie one is another low point…the song hit my pleasure centre as a kiss-off in the style of Lily’s ‘Knock ‘Em Out’, and I somehow ended up coming off as an uncritical pusher of pop. One day I will figure out how to do this.
2010. Clean slate, rededication to thoughtfulness, less intellectual laziness and short-cuts, hopefully.
Los Campesinos! – There Are Listed Buildings 
Little Boots – Earthquake 
John Mayers – Who Says 
Marina & the Diamonds – Mowgli’s Road 
Annie – I Don’t Like Your Band 
Roisin Murphy – Orally Fixated 
Florence + the Machine – You’ve Got the Love 
Lady GaGa – Dance in the Dark 
Kid Sister – Right Hand Hi 
Rihanna – Wait Your Turn 
Leighton Meester ft. Robin Thicke – Somebody to Love 
Taylor Swift – Jump Then Fall 
Mark Mallman – White Leather Days 
The Cast of Glee – Don’t Stop Believing 
Busy Signal – Da Style Deh 
The Singles Jukebox: 2009 Best-Off
Round 1, Group 1
Round 1, Group 6
We reviewed the Chase & Status Remix of Nneka’s Heartbeat a while back on Jukebox, and while the dub + metal guitar remix is nice and all, the original is a song of stunning beauty and measureless depth. This track does so many different things at once, flitting from tinkling pianos and pulsating basslines that wouldn’t be out of place in house music to harsh percussive guitar chords to freewheeling, clattering drums out of highlife or another sub-genre I’m ill-equipped to identify. What prevents it from becoming a total mess is the unifying power of Nneka’s echoing, twisting performance. She dominates the mix, torquing her voice from nasal cries of pain to the deep tones of her repeated “BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD KEEPS RUSHING.”
I haven’t had time yet to check out No Longer at Ease, the 2008 album this is taken from, but ‘Heartbeat’ is easily one of my favourite discoveries of 2009.
Just discovered this Swedish TV special of Aretha live in 1968. Not much to say here but damn.
Spent the weekend obsessively listening to Ambling Alp by Yeasayer and discovered Bettye Lavette. HAve a great deal to think/write about both of them. But for now, there’s end-of-year Jukeboxery to deal with.
For nigh on a year, I’ve been plagued by a repeated loop of musical magic running through my head: Passion Pit’s Sleepyhead – or more specifically, that otherworldly sample that forms its core. Somehow I never managed to figure out where it came from and now I know why. The sample is from the Gaelic recording Oro Mo Bhaidin by Mary O’Hara, a fairly famous Irish harpist whose pinnacle of musical output was in the 50s and 60s. Perhaps it’s just my soft spot for Gaelic tunesmithery due to family vacations in Nova Scotia and overexposure to The Rankins as a child, but the original recording seems almost as magical as the Kanye-fied chipmunk soul loop Michael Angelakos sings over top of in Sleepyhead.
Unfortunately, while Gaelic is on the list of languages-to-learn, right after Arabic, Yiddish and Hindi, I haven’t gotten around to it yet, and thus have no idea what Ms. O’Hara is going on about. Anyone care to take a crack at it?
Oro Mo Bhaidin – Mary O’Hara
Solange (yes, Beyonce’s sister) put out one of the best albums of last year: Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, a groovy Motown/Brill Building throwback laced with Boards of Canada samples and electronica. Dirty Projectors put out what might be the best album of this year: Bitte Orca. The collision of these two awesome things into one super awesome thing is something pretty damn awesome. Solange covers Stillness is the Move, flipping the same sample Erykah used in Bag Lady.
While I’m loathe to call this a better version (for one thing, it’s missing the totally mesmerizing trilled guitar work of Dave Longstreth), it’s a damn good take on Stillness.
Stillness is the Move – Solange [MP3], courtesy of Pitchfork